One of the things that I love most about living in Kearney, NE is my morning commute across town. Before I moved into my current apartment, which is within biking distance of my office, I lived on the opposite end of town and would have to drive 10-15 minutes to get to work. Since moving though, I am now only able to enjoy this commute once a week when I regularly meet with a friend at our favorite coffee shop on the far north end of town every Tuesday morning.
While this commute might seem inconvenient at times, I’ve come to really cherish the opportunity because it means that around 7:45am every Tuesday morning I get to drive south towards the highest point in Kearney and take in the wide-open horizon illuminated by the rising sun that lingers ahead of me; a delight like no other.
strawberries and cream
In his book In Search of the Common Good: Christian Fidelity in a Fractured World, Lincolnite Jake Meador makes a lovely connection between the Christian life and the lives of two brave Hobbits found in the beloved writings of J.R.R. Tolkien’s, The Lord of the Rings.
In the final pages of his great epic, J.R.R. Tolkien writes of his heroes, Sam and Frodo, and their desperate attempt to reach Mount Doom and cast the Ring of Power…into the fires and destroy it. As they came closer to the mountain, their situation grew more desperate. They were wasting away physically, Frodo’s spirit was failing, and their quest seemed hopeless. In a key moment, Sam attempts to encourage Frodo by asking him if he remembers the taste of strawberries and cream…Jake Meador
Meador uses Sam and Frodo’s dire situation and Sam’s simple, yet wise remembrance of small delights to cheer Frodo’s heart as instructive for Christian living. Delight in the simple things and faithful fidelity to small places are nourishment for our daily lives.
In search of this kind of nourishment though, I often find myself desperate for a getaway or a chance to break out of the normal routines of life and be refreshed by something new. My husband and I had the opportunity to take such a getaway a couple of weeks ago, and believe me, it was very refreshing. The weather cooperated and we were able to spend much of our time outside, which is rare for this time of year in Nebraska.
However, though we came back refreshed, it only took a couple of hours for us to unwillingly settle back into the routines of work, responsibilities, and household chores. I felt let down, unsatisfied with how the effects of our little getaway appeared to be very short lived.
As with everything in this fallen and broken world though, the temporary sense of refreshment that I felt from our spontaneous trip is not how God intends for us to be nourished spiritually, as I think we often hope for or expect. It is, in fact, quite the opposite.
Nourishment that stimulates hope and courage was never intended to be a shot in the arm, but more like a vitamin that we purposefully take every morning with our OJ and cereal. It is absorbed into our hearts and minds through daily discipline and routine, fidelity, and simple delight in the small things.
As Meador’s emphasis on delighting in the simple things and practicing fidelity to small places continues to challenge my thinking, I’ve tried to orient myself more to the simple delights of God’s creation; to the ‘strawberries and cream’ of daily life that can nourish weary hearts back to health.
I felt clumsy at first, noticing something and then getting distracted, only to feel bad about not enjoying it later. But I’ve come to discover that once you start disciplining your mind to look for the small delights in daily routines and simple places, it subtly forces you to slow down, to get off your phone, and to look up.
So, as I looked up from my dashboard on my regular Tuesday morning commute from the coffee shop to my office, my heart was nourished and refreshed by the golden-gray haze that covered the southern horizon, which lingered just ahead of me before my car started to descend down the hill. The haze was illuminated by the rising sun, which was itself beautifully framed by my driver’s side window.
Because of countless moments like this before and because I had grown to anticipate this moment in my week, I was able to behold the delight of God’s creation for as long as possible. And what I found is that when we become more aware of the simple beauties and delights in our daily routines and places, we begin to orient our hearts and minds around God Himself, His beautiful character, and His saving grace manifest on the cross.
When we become more aware of the simple beauties and delights in our daily routines and places, we begin to orient our hearts and minds around God Himself, His beautiful character, and His saving grace manifest on the cross.
“For Christians,” Meador explains, “an ordinary delight in the created gifts of God should nourish our piety and our daily lives – the look of clouds on a stormy spring day; the delight of a good glass of red wine; the feel of wind blowing against our cheek as we walk in the created world spoken into being by God. It also means delighting in the ordinary means of grace that God offers to us – the preached Word of God and the blessed sacrament given to us by a generous God who accommodates Himself to our limitations.”
Nourishment for the hopeless
Perhaps today you feel like Sam and Frodo did on the final leg of their journey; physically broken by illness or disease; spiritually spent by sleepless nights and wordless prayers; or to put it simply – hopeless.
Or perhaps things are good right now, in which case I would strongly encourage you to utilize your strength of body and spirit to train your heart and mind to dwell on the riches of God’s glory and grace to sustain you through the good and bad times of life to come.
Either way, consider the ‘strawberries and cream’ of your life and think about what they tell you about God; about His character and about His love for you. For me, it’s my weekly view of the sunrise, a good piece of instrumental composition, or a fresh bouquet of flowers. These are the things that delight my discontent spirit and cause me to stop and be still.
Consider the ‘strawberries and cream’ of your life and think about what they tell you about God; about His character and about His love for you.
These are the things that take my breath away.
The sunrise reminds me of God’s faithfulness; a good piece of instrumental composition reminds me of God’s delight in intellect and His interwoven beauty in the practiced and diligent skill of man, as well as the sovereignty of God in knowing and directing the complexities of life; and a fresh bouquet of colorful flowers reminds me of God’s delight in beauty and that if He cares for and dresses the flowers of the field as such, then He certainly cares for and preserves my life with His righteous right hand.
As your heart becomes more sensitive to the beauty of the little things and is quick to praise God for the simple delights that are all around you, every day will be a new day filled with hope for tomorrow, because not a day will go by without a sight, sound, smell, touch, or taste of heaven.